The debate over “no-fault” personal injury protection has been raging for the past few years, and it looks like we may be at a breaking point. Currently, all drivers in Florida must carry $10,000 worth of no-fault personal injury protection (PIP), but if some lawmakers have their way, this could change soon.
Because of this, it seems like a good time to examine both the benefits and drawbacks of PIP, as well as what the system might be replaced with if legislators decide to go another way.
What Are the Benefits of PIP?
Many of these benefits of PIP have been taken away in the past few years, weakening the argument for keeping it around. However, there are still positive points to PIP.
No Questions – We all make mistakes. Under our system now, PIP covers 80% of medical bills and 60% of lost wages after an auto accident, regardless of fault. This type of insurance takes all of the “he said, she said” out of the situation… up to $10,000.
Fast Coverage – “No-fault” was originally enacted to allow drivers to get their benefits quickly. The process of determining fault can really slow down the process, allowing hospital bills and other costs to pile up.
Lost Wage Benefit – Medical bills and car repairs aren’t the only form of damage you can rack up from an accident. Depending on your profession and the severity of your injuries, a car accident could put you out of work for days, months, or even permanently. PIP gives many drivers the option to use their $10,000 to cover lost wages.
What Are the Drawbacks to PIP?
80% is Not Enough – PIP works well to help injured people receive benefits quickly. However, it won’t cover all of your costs. Even beyond the fact that PIP won’t pay anything over $10,000, it only covers 80% of medical bills – you still have to pay 20% out of pocket. The percentage for lost wages is even less generous.
$10,000 Isn’t as Much as It Used to Be – If you are in a minor accident, PIP is great, helping you get reimbursed for a large portion of your damages in a typically fast timeframe. However, the cost of health care is a lot more than it was even just a few years ago – it doesn’t take a lot to go over $10,000 in medical bills. Anything over that limit is entirely your responsibility unless you have additional insurance or opt to take the responsible party to court.
Lawmakers Have Been Placing More and More Limits on PIP – First, lawmakers enacted fee schedules. Then they eliminated coverage for massage and acupuncture. Then they required all drivers to seek treatment within 14 days of their accident in order to get coverage. Supposedly all of these things were done to cut down on fraud, but the result is that lawmakers have repeatedly made it harder for drivers to get covered.
What Are Our Other Options?
Florida is one of 12 states with PIP, but only one of two states that doesn’t require drivers to carry insurance that will cover another person’s injuries. Lawmakers are looking to change that, and eventually shift away from requiring drivers to have PIP insurance.
Currently, Florida’s state legislature is looking at a bill that would require all drivers to hold $25,000 in bodily injury coverage for victims. While this type of insurance looks at fault, the responsible driver at least has more coverage to pay for a victim’s injuries.
Worried that this type of coverage will be more expensive? Not so fast. Experts have predicted that passing this bill will actually save a majority of drivers money on their car insurance.
For now, though, lawmakers are still debating whether Florida is ready to get rid of PIP. In the meantime, it exists, so it is important to comply with PIP’s rules. If you get in a car accident, make sure you see a doctor before your two weeks is up. If your damages look like they will exceed $10,000, talk to a Florida auto accident lawyer about your options in regards to filing a lawsuit and getting the compensation you need and deserve.
About the Author:
Since 1994, seasoned litigation and trial lawyer Anthony B. White has helped thousands of accident victims seek damages due to injuries sustained as a result of another party’s negligence. Included in America’s Registry of Outstanding Professionals and selected to the 2012, 2013, and 2014 editions of Florida Super Lawyers, Mr. White specializes in car accidents, insurance disputes, wrongful death, product liability, and medical malpractice cases. He is a longstanding member of the Florida Justice Association and the American Association for Justice and currently sits on the Board of Directors of the Broward County Justice Association.